Izzy – who is also celebrating her 39th birthday today – did a super job on her own and Mark Sartori’s Monkeying Around, giving the 11-year-old a confident ride to bring him home with 2.4 time-faults.
“I’m delighted with him,” said Izzy. “It’s a tough gritty course and he dug deep and got on with it. He’s a very careful horse – we got time-faults because he went a bit high and spent too much time in the air, but that’s ok for now.
“He was really good to me. There were times when I just sat behind him, kicked him and held the reins and went, ‘Jump it’ – with some other words added in! – and he did.
“That’s what cross-country is – we’ve spent all these years building up our partnership with them and trust in each other. Sometimes I have to help them and sometimes they have to help us and now he’s starting to help me, which makes me very happy.
“The course rode as it walked – you had to get a bit down and dirty and get on with it. Some people are very technical and think about distances, obviously they’re important but at the end of the day cross-country is about reacting to what happens. At the Suregrow Kidney Ponds, I haven’t got a clue what we did in terms of strides, but we got from a to b and I gave him a pat and said, ‘Thank you’ and then, ‘Get on with it’ and that is Bramham.”
Their finishing score for the day of 26.4 means Izzy and “Monkey” will retain the second place they held after dressage at worst, with overnight leaders Piggy March and Coolparks Sarco setting out later in the day to try to hold top spot.
Oliver Townend finished inside the time – the third rider to do so – on As Is, but the grey dragged his back legs through the rail into the Rail, Ditch, Rail combination at fence 9abc and broke a frangible device, adding 11 penalties to his 13th-placed dressage score.
At this stage, Tom Carlile (Darmagnac De Beliard) has the second-best score of the finishers, behind Izzy. He will sit in 10th or better overnight.
The Bramham Horse Trials cross-country is running approximately an hour and 10 minutes late due to earlier holds on course because of falls and the time needed to string a new route to allow riders to avoid fence 7ab, which has been taken out of the course.
The combination consisted of a triple brush arrowhead, then two long strides to a skinny hedge over the ditch. One horse was put down after an accident here and there were two other falls at the second part of the combination before the fence was removed from the competition.
You might also be interested in:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.